The I DO project: using experiential service learning to increase the impact of PIS

Sherwin Husseinifard, Lennart Corleissen, Lucas Meijs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose: The I DO project connects business students to the European branch of small private international development organizations (PIs), using experiential service learning, which combines skill-based and hands-on volunteering opportunities, to achieve learning objectives with students (learning) while helping PIs (service). This paper aims to summarize the experiences and learnings of the pilot project. Design/methodology/approach: Students work in four-person teams, guided by a student-coach, an academic supervisor and professional support, on a service project for one PI. Students provide indirect service to the PI through skill-based activities (e.g. creating marketing strategies or improving organizational efficiency) or hands-on volunteering (e.g. fundraising). In this program, students do not provide direct service to beneficiaries (i.e. they do not travel abroad). “I DO” will be established as a scalable regular course within the RSM Bachelor’s program. A pilot involving 22 students and 6 PIs was started in September 2020. Findings: The teaching brief describes lessons learned from the non-credit bearing 2021 pilot. As skill-based volunteers, students performed hands-on support tasks, conducted analyses, and formulated strategic recommendations. In the pilot, however, the students did not take on the active role of skill-based volunteer consultants, concentrating instead on the safer, easier role of hands-on support volunteers. Future improvements could thus be realized in the preparation phase, as well as by focusing the guidance of the coaches and academic supervisor on the stated learning objectives. The project and the students’ motivation were negatively affected by the lockdown. In the future, including after the pandemic, measures will be added to maintain motivation, including a focus on the personal development of students, social events between students and stronger involvement on the part of the coach. Originality/value: The teaching brief presents a new approach to service learning in international development as the service is giving to Western “headquarters” in both hands-on as skill-based volunteering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-28
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Global Responsibility
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2022


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